Guest Blogger: Anna Gannon
My pregnancy can be split into two categories: before I started meditating and after I started meditating.
The first seven months of my pregnancy were physically and emotionally challenging. I suffered from nausea due to morning sickness, anxiety due to worrying about the health of my baby, and stress due to work.
Just a few days after hitting the seven month mark, a friend recommended I try pregnancy meditation through an app called Expectful. Although I was cautiously optimistic about how meditation would help me, I was eager to ease my stress and anxiety so I committed to meditating every day for 30 days. After only three days of practice, it was as if a light bulb turned on inside of me. I started becoming more energized, more compassionate towards myself, and more loving towards my husband. For the first time since gazing down at that positive pregnancy test, I felt safe, capable and completely connected to my baby.
This new sense of positivity and peace carried me through those last three months of pregnancy, as they did through birth, and now motherhood.
Is there science behind prenatal meditation?
When I first started meditating, I was just looking to reduce my stress and anxiety. I had no idea that I was also benefiting my immune system, enhancing the chances that I would carry to full term, and increasing my pain tolerance for labor.
Meditating during pregnancy has been proven to…
Increase pain management
A study of a group of people who attended a four-day mindfulness meditation training found that they were able to decrease the intensity of painful stimulus by 40 percent (1). Decreased pain can be beneficial during pregnancy when your body is changing and preparing for birth, as well as during labor and recovery post birth as a new mom.
Less stress and anxiety
Through meditation you can learn to maintain an inner calm regardless of your external circumstances (2). This means that the more relaxed and positive you are about your birth experience, the more pleasant the outcome will be. Keep in mind that although some stress during pregnancy is normal, continuous stress has been linked to preterm birth and long term negative effects for you and your baby.
More likely to carry to full-term
A study that explored preterm birth found that women who participated in a mindfulness training program were 50% less likely to give birth early than women with no mindfulness education (3). Going full term allows your baby to fully develop and have a better start in life.
Meditation enhances the body’s immune function (4). A healthy immunity can help keep your body healthy during pregnancy and protect you and your baby from immune-related issues after delivery.
Practicing meditation completely changed my pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood experience. If you are pregnant and looking for something to support you emotionally through your journey, meditation might just be the answer for you and your growing baby.
- Brain mechanisms supporting the modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation. Zeidan, F., Martucci, K., Kraft, R., Gordon, N., McHaffie, J. & Coghill, R. (2011). The Journal of Neuroscience 31(14). 5540–5548.
- Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: results of a pilot study. Vieten C, Astin J. Archive of Women’s Mental Health. 2008; 11910:67-74.
- Meditation for preterm birth prevention: A randomized controlled trail in Udonthani, Thailand. Sriboonpimsuay W, Promthet S, Thinkhamrop J, Krisanaprakornkit T. International Journal of Public Health. Vol 1, No 1 pp 31-39.
- Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Davidson, R., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S., Urbanowski, F., Harrington, A., Bonus, K. & Sheridan, J. (2003). Psychosomatic Medicine 65. 564–570.
About the Author
Anna is a mom, the Community and Editorial Lead at Expectful, a Writer and a Yoga & Meditation Guide. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Yoga Today and The Expectful Blog. She was also a presenter at the 2014 Yoga Journal LIVE Event and the 2015 ECA fitness conference. Connect with Anna on Instagram.